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How Often Should I Change My Bed Sheets?

Those with allergies and people with night sweats should change their sheets often.
Bed sheets should be changed about once a week.
Folded sheets.
People soil their sheets with daily use of body sprays.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Revised By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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Bed sheets are soiled simply by everyday use and so should be changed regularly. Several surveys report that the majority of people change their sheets anywhere from once a week to once a month, but it's a good idea to change them every week. Depending on general cleanliness, allergies, and illness, some people may need to change their bedding more often. In addition to sheets, other bedding items, such as pillows and blankets, should also be cleaned regularly.

How Sheets Become Soiled

Even the cleanest people soil their sheets with daily use. Bodily fluids, such as sweat or drool, as well as oils that the skin naturally secretes are deposited on your sheets each night. Food crumbs or liquids may also end up on the sheets if you eat or drink while in bed. Additionally, humans shed skin cells at all times, and at night, they are shed into the bed.

Pets in the bed can also contribute to soiled sheets. Shedding, dander, and the daily dirt that they pick up can all end up on your bedding. Like your pets, if you don't bathe before bed, any dust or dirt you pick up during the day as well as make-up, body sprays, or lotions can transfer to your sheets too.

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When You Should Change Your Sheets

A build up of sweat and oils on sheets can cause bacteria to grow, and can be generally uncomfortable to sleep on. Food crumbs may attract insects, and skin cells are the food for dust mites. If you have allergies to dust mites, it's important you keep the skin cells in bed to a minimum. People with extreme allergies may need to change their bed sheets as often as every day. Sheets should also be changed daily if you are sick.

Although many experts recommend changing bed sheets weekly, they firmly advise not going more than two weeks between sheet changes to avoid any possible respiratory problems or dust mite infestations. There are many people who only change bed sheets once every couple of weeks or once a month, though, and as long as you don’t have terrible allergies, a compromised immune system, it’s not likely to cause huge problems if you occasionally change your sheets less frequently than recommended. It is important, however, to wash any soiled sheets promptly. You should always wash sheets immediately after night sweats, incontinence, or food stains.

It's also important to have several sets of sheets on hand, as well as a good mattress cover. Failure to use fresh sheets and a mattress cover may increase dust mites in your mattress and reduce its usable life. Buying two or three pairs of bed sheets may be less expensive than having to replace a mattress, and is generally a good idea anyway, since it takes a while for sheets to get washed and dried. It's a good idea to have three sets of sheets, so that you can have one set available for immediate changing, one on the bed, and one in the wash. You may need more sets if you routinely get behind on the laundry.

How to Properly Wash Sheets

Wash bed sheets in hot water unless they are made of a fragile material, like silk. Water around 120-140°F (49-60°C) is necessary to kill bacteria and dust mites, but hot water can decrease the life of delicate sheets. Dry cleaning or steam cleaning are better options in this case. Although dry cleaning should be done by professionals, steam cleaning can be done at home with a handheld steamer. To do this, first wash the sheets in warm water, and then hang them on a line or over a shower rod until they dry.

Pillow, Blanket and Comforter Care

Regularly washing pillows, blankets and comforters is also important for bed hygiene. It's particularly important to wash all bedding regularly if you or a family member have bad allergies or have been sick. Generally speaking, you should wash pillows once or twice a year, and blankets and comforters at least once a month. You can clean pillows at home in a washer and dryer, but make sure that they're totally dry before you put them back on the bed to avoid mold.

Use a commercial washer and dryer to handle thick or heavy comforters. You can lengthen time in between changing comforters if you use comforter covers like duvets. This allows you to simply wash the cover every few weeks instead of the bulkier item. If you have trouble getting large or thick comforters washed regularly, consider layering lighter blankets instead. You may want to consider handwashing delicate blankets or getting them professionally cleaned.

How to Eliminate Bed Bugs from Sheets

Although soiled bedding can attract all sorts of insects, bed bugs are one of the more common to infest bedding, as well as furniture and clothing. If you think you may have bed bugs, your best option is to call an exterminator. To eliminate these pests from sheets, blankets and clothes, wash items in water over 140°F (60°C). Bed bugs normally also infest mattresses, which cannot be washed because of the risk of growing mold. Completely enclosing an infested mattress in a quality mattress cover for 12 months usually deprives bed bugs of oxygen, killing them.

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Discuss this Article

anon951602
Post 31

In fact, the chemicals used to wash your bed linen harm more your health than mites and dead skin. Obviously we can't keep the same linen for 10 years on the bed, but I'm pretty sure that every six months is enough if you live in a place where you never have hot nights in the summer and you are not especially sweaty.

I have done this all my life and have never had asthma, allergies or skin problems!

anon338106
Post 30

Silk sheets are fantastic if you don't want to change your sheets too often, or want something quick drying. I've found they are the answer to my sensitive skin options. They also leave my hair super nice each morning. We got ours online. Best money we've ever spent!

anon337566
Post 29

In my house, we change bedsheets every two or three weeks depending on the season. And my husband has a lot of allergies. To be honest, I think detergent build-up in the laundry from washing so often is worse for his allergies than his own skin cells!

I'd like to add I also like the smell of fresh bed sheets, and it's not that we're both inactive. We do sport (and obviously shower afterwards and before bedtime), but we're both programmers so no, our smell somehow is ok.

As for the person with sensitive skin, the more you wash, the more you strip your skin of it's natural oils and protection, the more sensitive your skin gets. So showering less (every day when hot or every other day when less hot) is actually a great thing for your skin.

anon327798
Post 28

This is crazy advice. For normal healthy people, changing sheets is completely up to personal preference. The human species didn't evolve requiring clean sheets every two weeks to remain healthy. I change my sheets every six to eight weeks, and I'm the healthiest person I know! Fair enough, if you like the work associated with changing and laundering bedding more often, go ahead. But don't be scared that bedding washed less often is going to make you ill. It isn't.

anon319036
Post 27

Once a month, though I've known people to do it every three to six months. I had no idea people did it every week, though! Granted, going to sleep with fresh sheets is great, but that seems a bit too frequent. Although perhaps that's where I've been going wrong.

anon296827
Post 26

I change my sheets (and all my bedding) every other week. My duvet is washed every month. My boyfriend has night sweats and an oily skin and washes his sheets when they get yellow, after a few weeks or so (in the best case scenario). That is so gross. His sheets always look dirty. They never get really clean after laundry.

We don't live together, and you can understand why I never, ever sleep at his place.

anon291239
Post 24

Once a week? Sure, and you should shower every hour.

anon277720
Post 22

I change mine every three months, too. Oh dear.

anon264754
Post 21

How about changing your sheets every other day?

anon245829
Post 20

I change my sheets weekly and more if needed. It really depends on the "activities" going on in our bed. (If you know what I mean), Enjoy your bed, shower at night, girls put on that soft smelling body lotion, and climb into your bed with your man and lovely scented body and clean sheets!

ramesor
Post 18

I usually have reminders to change them every two weeks or before, especially if I already feel itchy. I take a shower in the morning before going to work and at night before going to sleep, but sad to say my skin is really sensitive. Sometimes it's my skin reminding me like, "Ohh I didn't sleep good last night. Why? It's been 14 days and I haven't changed the bed sheets and pillow case and comforter." Yes, it costs a lot of money in the laundry shop. My machine can't wash my big and heavy comforter. What a life!

anon197093
Post 16

To me, changing bed sheets more than once every week seems horribly fussy, and a waste of energy.

Of course, I don't have asthma or extreme allergies. Nor do I get night sweats or accidents. Obviously cases like that would be an exception.

Also, I shower at night instead of in the morning. I can never understand how a person can stand to go to bed with the day's grime on them!

I'm not scared of dead skin cells, body oils, or even mites, because I've got news for you: all those things are on your body 24/7 anyway!

How often I wash them just depends. Generally every two to four weeks, or if they get dirty somehow.

anon167390
Post 15

Wash at least every week! I think it is gross if you don't.

anon158378
Post 14

interesting. Where i come from, some country folks think people from US or Europe -- heck the white man -- is very clean, and in this particular topic, would change sheets every day. We are all human and like most say, it depends on the person.

Now, back to the topic. I bathe every night before bed and change my sheets three times a week, sometimes four. I love the smell of clean sheets every day. If i could, i would change them every day, so if I'm doing it three times, i guess I'm doing ok, going by the two weeks, once a month. argh. Those sheets will stink even if you shower every night.

anon155108
Post 13

I think it depends very much on the individual using the bed. If you wash your body every night before sleep, do not have night sweats or "accidents", I really don't see why they should be changed every few days.

I knew a person who claimed the sheets in their home were changed every day or two. Ironically, my first thought was, "wow, they must be dirty!"

Either that, or just unreasonably finicky.

But whatever makes people happy.

anon153973
Post 12

I wash my sheets every 3-6 months. i didn't see one post of someone washing their sheets every month. oops.

anon145320
Post 11

how often you change your change your sheets depends on the person sleeping in the bed.

if you're a woman who wears make up and doesn't wash your face before bed for whatever reason, change at least your pillow case frequently, if nothing else.

If you're a dirty, hard working man who doesn't always takes a shower after work, for us women, yes! please, wash regularly. Thank you.

Otherwise, I find washing bedsheets and pillow cases at least once every two weeks to benefit not only my quality of sleep but my complexion.

anon141622
Post 10

I change my sheets about every two weeks but I change my pillow case every other night.

anon132420
Post 9

I try to change my bedding every week or every two weeks. I'm not afraid of dust mites or anything like that, I just find that there is nothing better than getting into a nice clean bed.

I also have a cat who insists on sleeping in bed with me and my partner who sheds hair quite frequently and although she is a clean house-pet, she is black and my sheets are white so it can make my bedding quite unsightly.

anon129416
Post 8

I love clean sheets but I change my sheets once every few weeks. This is because every day after I get up I use a lint roller to clean my bed. You won't believe how much dead skin you shed in just one night. Do this for five minutes every day and you'd be able crawl into a clean bed every night with no worries. A good way to cut your utility bills.

anon123620
Post 7

what should you do when you have bed bugs? wash? throw away?

anon88851
Post 6

i love a clean bed. i wake up more easily with the smell of fabric powder.

anon88656
Post 5

I've never had problems with dust mites so I change my bed sheets/duvets every few months. I think people are too sensitive or too paranoid. I guess just do whatever works for you.

anon81379
Post 4

I'm glad I asked this question. I think I will elect to change my sheets on the first and 15th of each month or immediately when soiled. I will leave the changing once a week to those who have employed housekeepers. Thanks.

anon63239
Post 3

I wash my sheets once per week and wash the sheets or blankets I use to cover my living room furniture to keep the animal hair off my fabrics every two weeks and I wash my light-weight bedspread once a month.

I think when we buy for beauty, we forget about the washing aspect until it happens. I have one that has to be dry cleaned so I only use it for company.

About hotels and motels: you would be surprised to know they rarely change out the blankets or spreads. I was shocked when I worked as a chambermaid for the Hilton Hotel at Sanibel Island, FL. 1,700 dollars a night for a condo on the beach, yet they had bed bugs so I brought it to the manager's attention and it was taken care of.

I was new on the job, all the other maids just did not care to report or they were to ignorant to know the difference. So it isn't a sign of dirtiness or low class issues. Same as head lice. --avaa

mentirosa
Post 2

It is a good idea to wash the sheets once a week even if they do not look dirty, but because of dust mites.

As for feather bed, I would air it periodically, preferably in the sun. In Europe I have noticed, all of the bedding is aired daily for an hour or so before the bed is made.

caluwi
Post 1

I've never been the kind of person who changed their sheets every few days or even every week unless there was an obvious need. As for blankets and comforters - many times, these are so very difficult to wash. I have a feather bed that it's nearly impossible to wash. The only solution I found was to get a cover for it, and wash that periodically.

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